Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) Stories of Loyal Women of All Time (Kokon Meifu Den): Izumi Shikibu, c.1855. Oban.
Click here for a full-size image.
This fine print by Kunisada is from a well regarded series of 1855 which depicts famous women of history along with their biographies. This print tells the story of the great poet, Izumi Shikibu. Izumi Shikibu was the daughter of a Heian period official. At 20, Izumi was married to Tachibana no Michisada, governor of Izumi, the origin for her name. She was born in 997 and is famous for her passionate poetry… also manifest in affairs, marriages and intrigues throughout her life. Her most famous work is a diary of letters and thoughts to her lover in poem form. She is honoured as one of the great one hundred immortal poets and her work is performed to this day.
Kunisada draws her in a lavish interior, draped with rich materials. She kneels before possibly a writing set in black lacquer and a pile of decorative paper. On this she has written something - presumably a poem - which she is concealing beneath the elaborate sleeve of a figure ‘off-stage’. She is known sometimes as ‘The Floating Lady’.
It is a fine print. Beautiful bokashi shading and superb, oxidised shomenzuri are present on Izumi’s robes. Colour, condition and impression are all fine notwithstanding a small printing stain in the upper left. A fine print.
Published by Uoya Eikichi.
25 x 36 cm.